There are two types of people in this world. The ones who keep being stuck in their Past, blaming what happened to them for everything that is happening now in their lives, and the ones that let go of their Past and are focused on creating their Present and Future.
I have a relative who every week stocks up his fridge with all kinds of (perishable) foods - that just go to waste after a few days because it's impossible for him and his family to eat that much. Then he does it again, week after week. Why does he do this? Because when he was growing up his family was poor and he didn't have enough food to eat. He was hungry. So, even if his living situation changed dramatically he is still that hungry little boy who fears that he won't have anything to eat.
You might not have such a drastically obvious case of "living in the past" but most people do carry that heavy weight with them, and usually they aren't even aware of it.
How can you determine if you are living in The Past or not?
Do I believe that the purpose of life for a woman is to get married and have children? Because when you were growing up you saw how your family (and society in general) throw hate at women who decided to live their lives differently.
Do I feel awkward in social situations? Because you never fit in with kids in school.
Do I think "They are all the same!"? Because you got your heart broken one too many times.
Do I always keep my distance from people? Because your parents were emotionally cold.
Do I think that life is hard? Because that was the belief and reality of your parents.
Am I still holding a grudge against her? Because of something she did to you years ago.
Ask yourself other similar questions.
If your answer is yes, you're living in your Past.
You still feel the pain caused by someone or some circumstance.
You are seeing people as they were then and even if they are completely different now, due to the growth and passage of time, you are still seeing them as they were.
If you find yourself still living in the Past, it's ok. You're just human. Some scars just go too deep. Give yourself some love and compassion. But then, because you deserve better in life, decide that it's time to move on.
Unchecked living in the Past usually can cause a victim mentality.
People start feeling like victims. They think if they did or didn't do this, my life or I would be that. They are always negative and complain about everything. They blame everybody but themselves.
People with a victim mentality and negative mindset usually find a huge number of bad things going on in their life or feel that they do not deserve the good things in life. Because of that, their life goes nowhere.
It's very hard to be around them because they suck out your energy and most of the times, if you don't know how to protect yourself, you'll end up being just depressed as they are. Even when you offer them some hope, they can make you feel like you do not understand them, so they will complain more to show you how miserable they are. If you offer a solution, they will give you another problem to that solution to make excuses for why nothing will work out.
It’s not our job to rescue people who do not want to save themselves.
In the end, it ultimately means that they are living in their Past and their life will keep on spinning in the same scenarios, leaving them stuck.
How to let go of The Past and use it to fuel your Future?
As a first step, you have to become aware of the emotional baggage that you are still carrying with you.
What are the events in question? Who hurt you? How exactly are you feeling because of it?
Think. Journal. Bring it to the surface.
Remember every little painful detail. Feel the pain. Cry. Yell. Scream.
Emotions MUST be processed in order to let them go. You need to release that toxic energy from your system.
This is where Faith comes in. Yes, Faith. No matter what you believe in - God, Allah, Buddha, Universe, or The Force - bring your Faith close to you. Feel the love and peace your spirituality gives you. You can now go to the place where you feel at peace thinking:
This happened to me for a reason. I may not see it or understand it but I have faith that Universe put this on the path of my life for a reason.
Living this life means experiencing it. The good and bad moments.
Bad moments made me realize what I don't want. Because of them, I know what I want and what makes me happy.
Past hurts made me stronger, more experienced, and wiser.
How can I use the lessons from the past and transform them into something good?
Can I help somebody going through the same experiences?
Even if your spirituality is weak at the moment try to understand that believing that things happen for a reason can only help you. How? Because then you change your mindset from the one of The Victim Mentality who would say:
"Why did this happen to me?!
Why is Life punishing me?!
Is this punishment for something I did in my past life (karma)?!"
The Empowered Mentality who would ask themselves:
"What can I learn from this?
What if I chose this experience before coming to this World?
What if I chose to be born in this family so that, through the experience I gained, I could grow in the person I'm meant to be.".
Try it. Just for a moment. See how it makes you feel. You will feel in control. You will feel at peace.
You will feel ready to let the Past stay in the past.
You won't forget those experiences but you won't let them define your Present and Future anymore. You will be free.
After you release that toxic energy, your new and positive energy will make you read different books; watch different videos; show up differently; make different decisions, and, as the result from that, your Life will Change.
In other words, you can use The Energy of The Past to fuel your bitterness and judgement or you can use it to transform Your Life and fuel Your Success.
Being raised in a family where your father beat you can make you the best parent you can be to your children.
Past hurts made me stronger, more experienced, and wiser.
Living in poverty when growing up can make you pursue a life of abundance, where you will be giving back to people who are in the situation you were in.
Being sexually abused can make you become a therapist so you can help others who went through something similar.
It's up to you and only you to decide if you want to be defined by your Past or use it as a tool to build your better Future.